Christopher Reeves

Watch: Mitt Romney heckled as Utah Republican convention turns into Trump party

It shouldn't surprise anyone that Republican state conventions this year are more out of control than ever. Bitter about losing the White House, control of the Senate and House, Republicans are up in arms, and they are eager to not blame President Donald J. Trump, who lost them the US House in 2018, and who's defeat cost them the US Senate. Instead, Republican state conventions, convinced it is all a setup, have decided to turn on Republicans that they don't feel are conservative enough.

When Mitt Romney took to the stage in Salt Lake City, despite being the 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee, he heard all about how he was an apparent traitor and a communist. Romney had quick responses, though, boiling down to: "Do you know who my dad is?"

I cannot speak for every man I know over 40, but somewhere in my life I decided that I really couldn't play the card that says: "stop picking on me, do you know who my dad is?" It, well, seems fairly weak. For Mitt Romney, facing down boos, though, it was the off-the-cuff response that hit home. From the Salt Lake Tribune:

"Aren't you embarrassed?" said Romney trying to deflect the chorus of catcalls that greeted him as he took the stage.
"I'm a man who says what he means, and you know I was not a fan of our last president's character issues," said Romney as delegates attempted to shout him down. Accusations that Romney was a "traitor" or "communist" flew from the crowd like so many poison darts.

"You can boo all you like," said Romney. "I've been a Republican all of my life. My dad was the governor of Michigan and I was the Republican nominee for president in 2012."

The booing, however, did not easily abate.

Sen. Mitt Romney speaks at the 2021 Utah GOP Convention

It's OK, though, the Republican state convention in Utah did have some good news. According to Congressman Owen Burgess, racism is nearly non-existent in Utah, and, that is in comparison to America, which is the least racist country in the world.

Congressman Burgess Owens offered deep gratitude for Utah's focus on family, sense of volunteerism and respect for racial diversity. "We're the least racist state in the country and the least racist country in the world," he said.

The Netherlands, New Zealand, Canada and several others have so far declined to comment.

Kansas GOP calls Sen. Joe Manchin their bipartisan hero

he Kansas GOP has a history of being seen as credible brokers of moderate proposals. After all, Sen. Roger Marshall was one of only six senators to refuse to certify President Joe Biden, and their state legislature has just spent months debating anti-transgender legislation and anti-science COVID-19 legislation as high priority.

Kansas Republicans chose Kris Kobach to serve as secretary of state and then as their nominee for governor. Now he may be seeking a position as state attorney general. When you're looking for a party that knows something about bipartisanship, why, the Kansas GOP is a beacon held high, guiding troubled ships to shore.

From the Kansas Reflector:

U.S. Rep. Ron Estes, the Republican 4th District representative, said the Democratic takeover was accompanied by a couple months of "hatefulness" that has somewhat subsided.

He expressed optimism Republicans would retake the House in 2022 after redrawing of congressional district maps and with Democrats taking the historically inevitable mid-term election hit. In the meantime, he said, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, was the GOP's backstop in the divided Senate.
"The most powerful person in Washington, D.C., is a man named Joe. And it's Manchin, not Biden," Estes said.

You can spend all the time you want reading about the Democratic senator from West Virginia at Vox, but the short story is simple: He's not going to support big senate reforms, will likely stop a great deal of infrastructure work, and stands against voting rights reforms. That's enough to garner some Republican praise and catch some support for being bipartisan.

There's something great about finding a bipartisan compromise. In a recent argument, a friend and I argued about a house. They wanted to burn it down. I proposed we not burn it down. We were unable to reach a bipartisan compromise as their counterproposal was that we just burn down the garage. While that was certainly a compromise between the two positions, I just couldn't accept it. I recognizing the house would still be rendered permanently damaged and, well, we would be committing arson.

Oh well. Maybe Joe Manchin has a plan that just agrees to disenfranchise only the people Republicans want to disenfranchise and can call it bipartisan.

Or something.

Republican Party reduced to sniveling hypocrites hoping for Caligula Trump's blessing

Four years ago, Republicans couldn't believe that a reality TV star would end up their nominee. They were sickened at the possibility. They said they would never let it happen to their party. Now, without a doubt, the Republican Party is entirely the party of Donald J. Trump, and the people who were against him just a few years ago are now his strongest sycophants.

We look back at history for incredible leaders who put their stamp on the generations that followed. Some have left positive marks on a nation or empire that are still being felt—FDR is an example. Others, like Caligula, Nero, or Andrew Johnson aren't necessarily the leaders you would imagine people lining up to make sure they were aligned with. As for the modern Republican Party: Oh no, call them the party of Trump now. They are so desperate to get Trump's blessing that they are throwing themselves on the ground and begging at his mansion in Florida.

Politico reported on the madhouse event:

The scene illustrated what has become a central dynamic in the nascent 2022 race. In virtually every Republican primary, candidates are jockeying, auditioning and fighting for the former president's backing. Trump has received overtures from a multitude of candidates desperate for his endorsement, something that top Republicans say gives him all-encompassing power to make-or-break the outcome of primaries.

Four candidates from Ohio flew down and begged, groveled, and patted the back of Trump, believing that his blessing would give them the inside track to the nomination in 2022.

This is an interesting dynamic change from where the Republican Party was just a few years ago, in case we forget:

Ted Cruz: Donald Trump Is a 'Pathological Liar'

Some things are the same, though. The best political motive to serve the country and get things done is always revenge, right? Oh wait, that probably isn't a good reason to serve the public. From ABC NY:

Trump has yet to formally endorse the whole group of former administration officials, but he's already offering his support to some 2022 candidates to keep a grip on the GOP and deliver a dose of retribution to Republicans who he believes have wronged him, experts say.
"It's more about trying to push out those who he feels weren't nice to him," said Doug Heye, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee. Heye boiled Trump's 2022 ambitions down to just a few personal goals: grabbing attention, seeking revenge, and ensuring his grip on the Republican Party.

For many candidates, the path into the 2022 campaign begins at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where fledgling candidates are courting his support while also spending hefty sums of campaign money to host lavish fundraisers at his property.

Don't worry, folks. If Trump couldn't grift off of you before, now he'll make sure your donations to other candidates' funds end up in his pockets by forcing that money to be spent at his resorts.

I'm sure they can explain how this will economically help your state somehow.

DNC Chair Jaime Harrison demolishes RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel's fake outrage

Ronna McDaniel is worried about the world. Mostly, as chair of the RNC, she's worried about the fact that Google is, based on her theory, suppressing right-wing voices. While there hasn't been a lot of actual proof of that—it's mostly anecdotal conspiracy theories—it doesn't stop the RNC chair from screaming it loudly and calling for the tech giant to be called to task.

Don't get me wrong: I find it interesting and useful to have Republicans so interested in regulations, and, potentially, in breaking up monopolies. It would be an interesting discussion to have. While most of this boils down to programming and data modeling to show consumers in markets what they think will generate the most clicks, Republicans love the talking point. When the talking point meets a real, actual problem, however, they have absolutely no answer.

When studied, The Washington Post pointed out that many conservative-leaning websites get more promotion and spread over liberal/progressive websites, so conservative complaints are a bit of a tiny violin problem. In one tweet, however, Chair Jaime Harrison points out a real, defined problem that one party is directly causing: voter suppression.

Don't worry, Ronna. You can keep at this for the next few years—maybe you'll improve. Heads up: Next time, don't use the search term "DNC." You'll come up with DNC as a result.

Kansas Republican admits to voter fraud, agrees to diversion

If you ask Republicans, voter fraud is rampant and is quickly destroying the viability of elections. They argued that so many of these illegal votes are swaying elections that elections should be questioned. So far, however, the cases seem to show that voter fraud is extremely rare, and, whoops, often committed by Republicans.

In Kansas, the case of Steve Watkins, former US Congressman reached a conclusion last night with the former congressman admitting he had, in fact, committed voter fraud and that he didn't live at a UPS Store. Watkins, who lost to Jake Laturner, Republican State Treasurer, argued that the case was being brought up only for political reasons, as the relevant information was known for months beforehand and was related to a 2019 case. The voter fraud case marks another moment in the strange, strange tale of a former congressman who no one was ever sure of where he came from — and where he plans to go.

Steve Watkins appeared on the Kansas election scene in 2018 from out of nowhere. Republicans in the statehouse denounced Watkins, mostly on the grounds no one had ever heard of him, his claims seemed to be over the top, and his credentials simply didn't exist. From the Kansas City Star:

"Clearly, this is the way the affluent get their middle-aged kids out of the basement," said state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and one of Watkins' primary foes. Later, he added, "He's a charlatan, a fraud and an opportunist."

But Fitzgerald also said the newcomer probably is leading. The GOP field has seven candidates and because Kansas doesn't hold runoff elections, it's possible to be nominated with less than 30 percent of the vote.

State Senator Fitzgerald and others kept pointing out what could at best be called inconsistencies in Watkin's stories. One of those tall tales finally caught up to him, however, and now, the former Representative admits guilt. The Associated Press offers this take:

Former Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas has entered a diversion program to avoid trial over allegations that he voted illegally in a 2019 municipal election.

Watkins, a Republican from Topeka who served only one term in the U.S. House, was facing three felony charges. He was accused of listing a postal box at a UPS store as his home on a state registration form when he was living temporarily at his parents' home. He was also charged with lying to a detective who investigated the case.

While the congressman admits to voter fraud, it appears his penalty will be very minor, a $250 fine and an agreement to not possess firearms for 6 months. Watkins refers to the matter as a "mistake," others who have made similar honest mistakes, however, find themselves facing up to 5 years in prison. I guess it pays off to be a wealthy white Republican facing voter fraud charges.

Kansas Republicans spent a decade attacking social assistance. Now they are shocked at the results

Republican governors waged a decade-long attack on social services provided to families and those who are needy. The Republican playbook remained the same: setting up guidelines requiring that recipients return to work in set timeframes, that work requirements be built into the programs, and that they heckled those who didn't agree.

In Kansas we can see the results: Grift is at record levels in Republican businesses. Meanwhile, the Republicans were so concerned about how these funds could be misused that they pushed through legislation about how and where the money could be spent—like on cruise ships and casinos. When Republican states focused on how to make sure people couldn't get access to social services, they set themselves up for an outright disaster. When COVID-19 hit, states under Republican leadership that focused on these issues were completely unprepared to reverse course on their strategy and get assistance to the people. Now the results are devastating. The Republican response, in essence, is: 'Let's put forward more ideas about making it difficult for families in need to get help.'

The latest Kansas Republican push is "tie the length of time you can receive unemployment benefits to the statewide unemployment rate." There are of course, major problems with this, as the Kansas Reflector points out:

"Tying unemployment benefits to the unemployment rate is problematic," explains Donna Ginther, a University of Kansas professor who has been giving me (and others) a crash course on economics.

The unemployment rate, Ginther says, is a bad measure of the economy overall.

"When the economy is bad, people get discouraged," she says. "They may want to work but they stop looking. And so the narrowly defined unemployment rate does not capture those discouraged workers."

Why? Because Kansas Republicans are prepared to say that unemployment benefits should be stopped or cut because the state is actually at full employment, according to the state Chamber of Commerce.

Former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback reduced the time that you could be on unemployment in the state in 2013, from 26 weeks to 16 weeks. Worse, if you fail to report 1099 or part-time income, even accidentally, you may find yourself banned from receiving any unemployment under any circumstances for five years. So Kansans struggling under COVID-19? Tough. If you're under that penalty, go suffer. And if you take on some work that you aren't turning in while you wait for any help, then boo to you, too.

Oh, wait—why aren't the unemployed in Kansas getting meaningful help right now? In another shot at the services to the unemployed, the former Brownback administration refused to fund system upgrades that made tracking claims and responses easier. Put more simply: He wanted to end unemployment, so he underfunded it to starve it and now the frail entity that is left groans under the weight it's tackling. From KVOE:

During this time, Governor Kelly stated that prior to COVID-19, updating the department's 44-year-old IT system was a major priority. However; that priority had to be shifted at the onset of the pandemic as the state had to "respond, process and deliver" thousands of claims on a daily basis while also trying to answer hundreds of thousands of calls at the same time.

Kelly says both unemployment and staffing within KDOL were at an all-time low at the onset of coronavirus. She added that the state also faced challenges due to "curveballs" that were thrown into the mix at the federal level.

Republicans spent decades working to destroy all means of public assistance. Now, Republicans are screaming about why the system doesn't work. While blaming the Democratic elected official in office may seem convenient, the truth is that Republicans in the statehouse were content with people facing draconian rules that cut off their unemployment and ended their benefits. They just assumed it wouldn't happen in their district. They also assumed it wouldn't happen all at once. So now the blame game happens.

Actor Edward Norton breaks down Trump's poker 'endgame' in epic Twitter thread: 'Call. His. Bluff'

The boss of a casino should know a few things about the cards they hold. They also know what the players in the house hold. They make sure drinks keep coming to hold off how long it is before someone leaves the table to try and get as much money out of a patron as is possible. The business model works for almost everyone — OK, well, Trump failed at this — however, the strategy remains to not worry about the immediate outcome of winning a hand or to bust the player. The goal is to string the situation out long enough that you find a way to get what you want anyway.

Edward Norton, an actor often associated with his fantastic performances in American History X and Fight Club, took to Twitter and gave his perspective as someone who grew up the son of a federal prosecutor about the "game" that Donald J. Trump is playing with democracy.

GOP's Josh Hawley doesn't even live in the state he represents

It was 2014, running for his re-election when the Washington Post had to point out something about Kansas Senator Pat Roberts: he didn't live in Kansas. In fact, Roberts made a joke that he had "full access to a recliner" he could use when he wanted. Now, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley seems to be following his lead, in a report by the Kansas City Star.

Hawley, it seems, has been using a $1.3 million dollar home in Virginia as his residence while claiming his sister's home address to vote from in the state of Missouri. Oh, Josh. Instead, when asked about the issue, the Senator's office became indignant, and brushed aside any information about it — after all, this is par for the course.

Hawley's shifting address to maintain registration isn't new. The Kansas City star notes how his family traveled, without, you know, traveling in household registration.

Hawley lived in Columbia during his stint as a professor at the University of Missouri Law School and two years as Missouri attorney general. But in March of 2019 the couple sold the Columbia home, according to the Boone County Recorder of Deeds.

That same month Hawley and his wife were added as co-owners to his parents' home in Springfield, according to the Greene County Recorder's Office. That property was sold in June.

A little more than a month after the sale of the Springfield property, Hawley changed his voter registration address to his sister's home in Ozark. He is also using the Ozark address for his registration with the Missouri Bar.

Don't worry. Hawley has an answer. Of course, it is to go on another conspiracy theory led tirade, saying that George Soros is apparently hiding in the bushes waiting for him. Or, something like that I guess.

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Man arrested in plot to kidnap and murder Wichita, Kansas mayor over COVID-19 protections

Brandon Whipple, a former statehouse Democrat elected in Wichita, Kansas, was subject to a kidnapping and murder plot. In texts sent to another member of the Wichita city government, the suspect, Meredith Dowry, asked for Whipple's address and then made clear his intentions.

Wichita implemented policies aimed at protecting citizens from spread of COVID-19, but some members of the community have backed conspiracy theories instead of science.

Speaking to The Wichita Eagle:

The apparent motive was the suspect's opposition to "masks and tyranny," Whipple said.
"He said he was going to kidnap me and slash my throat and he needed my address because I needed to see the hangman — me and everyone who, something about tyranny," Whipple said.

The suspect remains in custody while the Wichita Police Department further investigates the matter.

In a multi-hour meeting, many members of the Wichita community spoke out against the mandate and backed conspiracies. The mandate held, however..

Wichita City Council Meeting July 3, 2020

Trump campaign attacks Biden for going to church and his son's grave

Over the last week, one of the biggest stories in the country has focused on President Donald J. Trump’s demeaning of veterans. With multiple confirmations, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News, along with the originator of the story, the Atlantic, confirmed that Trump had made just those references during a trip to Paris, France during 2018.

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